2017 Best Teacher Awards

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This year’s Best Teacher Awards dinner, the 19th anniversary of the recognition, was held Wednesday, April 26, in the Lory Student Center Theatre. For more information, please visit the Alumni Association website. Photos by CSU Photography.

Each year, the Colorado State University Alumni Association recognizes outstanding CSU educators with the Best Teacher Awards. Teachers are nominated by students and alumni and are selected by a committee of faculty, students and members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Matt Camper (B.S., ’01; M.S., ’07)

Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management (Entomology)

College of Agricultural Sciences

For seven years, Matt Camper has taught entomology in Colorado State University’s Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management as a special appointment instructor. He also serves as the director for the CSU Bug Zoo, a live arthropod collection used for Extension and outreach.

Matt Camper, Instructor of Boagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, College of Agricultural Sciences.

Camper has broad research interests around pest insect species in Colorado, including insect pests of horticultural commodity crops. He assists with insect samples that are submitted by companies and individuals from around the United States and helps identify and create management plans for their pest problems. His work is expanding to urban entomology and the Cimex species (bedbugs and relatives) pest complex.

He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Charles N. Shepardson Faculty Teaching Award from CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Pi Beta Phi’s Professor/Teacher of the Month from the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, and he is a two-time International Education “Globie” Award recipient through CSU’s Office of International Programs.

His favorite quote about learning is the notable quote from Bradley Millar: “Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar.”

One of Camper’s favorite places to visit on campus?

“Newton’s Corner, which is the sculpture between the Behavioral Sciences and Yates buildings,” Camper said. “There is a quote from Sir Isaac Newton that I hold at the heart of my ability as an educator. It reads ‘If I have been able to see farther than others, it was because I stood on the shoulders of giants.’”

James Klett, Ph.D.

Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

College of Agricultural Sciences

James Klett, Professor, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, College of Agricultural Sciences.

Since 1992, Dr. James Klett has been a professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Colorado State University. He also serves as director and board president for CSU’s W.D. Holley Plant Environmental Research Center and as director for Plant Select®, the country’s leading source of plants designed to thrive in the High Plains and Intermountain regions.

Ever since his primary education, Dr. Klett has been on a quest to gain more knowledge and help others learn. He credits his college adviser for inspiring him to continue his education and pursue an advanced degree. In graduate school, he was graduate teaching assistant where he helped students with laboratories and learning the applied aspects of horticulture. This experience lead him to pursue a university-based teaching and Extension career, so that he could help students learn both the scientific and applied aspects of horticulture.

He cites the Annual and Perennial Demonstration Trial Garden and the new Perennial Demonstration Garden as two of his most significant accomplishments. They have developed into major teaching and research gardens for students and the gardening public and are major tourist attractions during the growing season in Northern Colorado.

His teaching approach?

“I strongly believe that students learn best by exposing them to various teaching techniques,” Dr. Klett said. “Therefore, in most of my courses, students are exposed to lectures with photos and videos, and plant walks where they actually see the plant material and cut specimens to learn from in the laboratory.”

Bill Shuster (B.A., ’88, M.B.A.; ’00)

Department of Management

College of Business

Bill Shuster has taught at Colorado State University for 16 years and is a clinical professor of organization and innovation management in the Department of Management in the College of Business. His primary role is teaching business capstone, supply chain practicum, and international business courses, while providing support for students in their career development. Shuster also works with many corporations to build bridges between the college and business world. This is where he developed his research interest of investigating the correlation of employee engagement and corporate strategy.

Bill Shuster, Professor of Management, College of Business.

Shuster maintains his control of a small management consulting firm that specializes in organizational integration. He serves on the boards of directors for multiple firms and has worked with employees from Facebook, Lockheed Martin, JP Morgan Chase, and Google. Shuster was named “Professor of the Year” by the CSU Business College Council, is an Honorary Inductee for Golden Key Honor Society and Sigma Iota Epsilon, and was a CSU Honor Alumnus. Shuster has also received the Accenture Professor Excellence Award and Excellence in Education Award from CSU’s Department of Athletics.

He was inspired to teach by both his parents, who were educators in small schools in Colorado. His philosophy on teaching?

“Teach students how to think and not what to think.”

His favorite quote that he applies to his teaching is from Albert Einstein: “I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”

Abigail Veliquette, Ph.D. (M.A., ’07; Ph.D., ’13)

Department of Communication Studies

College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Abby Veliquette holds a master’s in communication studies and a doctorate in organizational learning, performance, and change from Colorado State University. Dr. Veliquette has taught at CSU for 10 years, specializes in organizational communication, and teaches classes ranging from professional communication to conflict management and public speaking.

Abby Veliquette, Special Assistant Professor, Communications Studies, College of Liberal Arts.

Her research has focused on volunteers in nonprofit settings and leadership development in organizations, and she serves as a leadership coach and consultant to organizations.

Dr. Veliquette finds the most joy alongside students, supporting them in achieving their full potential and equipping them to be engaged, strategic organizational citizens. Prior to CSU, she worked for 10 years in a faith-based nonprofit, managing volunteer training, recruitment, and retention.

Her greatest accomplishment as a teacher?

“The times when my teaching extends beyond the classroom, and I am given the opportunity to help students apply our learning to their real-life situations,” she said.

Her philosophy on teaching?

“The classroom, like no other place, encourages everyone to engage, challenge, innovate, and critique. As a student, I loved that my instructors expected the best from me and gave me the space to explore and develop my worldview.”

Grace Wright (M.B.A., ’13)

Department of Management

College of Business

For more than three years, Grace Hanley Wright has taught entrepreneurship and social and sustainable venturing in the College of Business at Colorado State University. Wright studied political science at the University of Denver and received her master’s in business administration from CSU’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise Program.

Grace Hanley Wright, Instructor of Management, College of Business.

Prior to CSU, Wright worked for Free the Children and Whole Foods Market, two businesses that showed her the positive impact of business and the power of young people to make a difference. As a result of the GSSE program, Wright co-founded a 501(c)(3), Ascent, which focuses on international women’s health. She recently founded Aptitech, which enables technology adoption among older generations.

Wright works to equip her students at CSU with the knowledge that they can be powerful entrepreneurs and change-makers in business. In 2010, Wright was recognized as a Colorado Woman of Influence and, in 2016, as a Northern Colorado Superwoman.

Making a positive impact is central to Wright. In elementary school, after learning about the horrifying situations surrounding child labor throughout the world, she raised enough money during her sixth- and seventh-grade years to build a school in India through an organization called Free the Children. In high school, she volunteered in a school in Kenya, and in college, she studied abroad in northern Brazil and worked with children who were trafficked in the sex industry. While at Whole Foods, she spent time in Guatemala working with microloans and volunteering in a school.

Her philosophy on teaching?

“It has been clear to me throughout my life that education is a tool that can be used to lift people up; education can be used to change the world.”

Marie Villescas Zamzow (B.S., ’95)

School of Social Work

College of Health and Human Sciences

Marie Villescas Zamzow has taught in the School of Social Work at Colorado State University for the past four years, and specializes in social welfare policy, child welfare, clinical work with families and groups, and diversity. In her classes, which include bachelor’s- and master’s-level classes, she facilitates learning, critical thinking, and social work leadership and discussions on “how we can each be responsible to help create change – social, environmental, or economic change – to create social justice.”

Marie Villescas Zamzow, Instructor of Social Work, College of Health and Human Sciences.

Zamzow leads and has served on several community committees, including the Diversity and Human Rights Committee, the Curriculum Committee, the Small Systems Committee, the Social Committee, and is the CSU faculty assigned to the student organization, Social Work in Action.

Her inspiration for teaching?

“My father,” she said. “Before retiring, he spent his life educating the children who struggled to learn. He was always patient and kind and inspiring to his students. He taught children that other teachers had given up on. He is a first-generation Mexican American and grew up in a time of rampant discrimination. He was the first in his family to go to college, and he received his bachelor’s degree and several master’s degrees. He taught me to value my Mexican heritage and to stand up for people who needed an advocate. He also taught me that education was the single best way to fight injustice and create a positive future.”

Her philosophy on teaching?

“Know who you are, and bring your best self into the classroom.”